OpenMarket – September 1, 2017
Most people don’t think of customer experience when they think of the ways the GDPR will affect their business.
Instead, they think about the huge fines their business might face if they don’t comply.
Or how difficult it’s going to be to identify all of their personal data.
Or how expensive it’s going to be to hire a consultancy to guide them through the process.
That’s understandable. It makes sense to focus on the issues that could potentially derail your business or swallow huge chunks of budget.
But here’s the thing – the GDPR is also going to have an impact on your customer experience. And it can be a huge opportunity for your business if you approach it in the right way.
How the GDPR affects customer experience
When the GDPR comes into force next year, it will give your customers more control over their relationship with you. They’ll have the right to access, update and remove the data you hold on them.
Taken on face value, this sounds like bad news. It means you have to identify all the data you hold on each of your customers, which is a complicated and time-consuming process. And then you have to handle requests when they come in.
But look a little bit closer and an opportunity emerges. Your business now has no choice but to break down the customer-data silos between different business groups. And once you know what data you hold on each of your customers you’ll be able to do things you’ve never done before. You’ll be able to make your business truly customer-centric.
Of course this doesn’t take away from the challenge of managing requests, but even this burden may not be as heavy as you imagine.
Why empathy is important
A lot of businesses are worried about new customer rights because they think they’ll be swamped with requests. But the reality is, your customers will only make a request if they think it’s necessary – like if they’re worried their data is at risk or that you’re using it inappropriately.
This means you have a certain amount of control over the number of requests you receive. If you ignore customer concerns then you’ll probably have a lot of customers asking you to delete their data. But if you take the time to put yourself in their shoes and address niggling doubts then you’ll likely only receive a manageable number of requests.
To understand your customers’ viewpoint, it helps to think about how you’d want your data to be treated. You wouldn’t want to share it with a business that hoards data for one reason and then uses it for another. You wouldn’t give your data to a business that uses it to spy on your friends. And you wouldn’t want a business to sell your data to someone else without your consent.
Even if your business isn’t doing anything wrong, you still need to prove it. And it pays to be proactive. Show your customers that you’re doing the right thing before they have any reason to be worried, and they’ll admire your openness.
Often, it’s just a matter of being open and direct. So rather than hiding your intentions in a hundred-page terms and conditions document, explain how you’re going to use customer data up front and in plain language.
Handling requests the right way
So let’s say you’ve done all you can to minimize the amount of requests you’re receiving from customers. The next challenge is ensuring you can handle the requests that do come in quickly and effectively.
Specifically, you’ll need to work out how your customers are going to make requests and how you’re going to respond to them.
You want to make this as easy as possible for both you and your customers. It may be tempting to complicate the process to put customers off but this is a dangerous strategy. It makes your business look like it has something to hide and, ultimately, the customers that wants to know won’t stop trying. Make it too hard, and they may well complain about it on social media.
On your business’s side, making life easier ultimately comes down to choosing the right channel for requests. Your customers need a way of sending requests quickly and you need a way of responding just as quickly. And, of course, all communications need to be secure.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend money creating a new app or web page to meet this challenge. SMS is the ideal solution, your customers know how to use it and it’s easy for you to implement. Messages can also be automated allowing you to share data with customers the moment they request it (providing you have it on hand).
The GDPR – it’s not just about challenges
Complying with the GDPR isn’t really an option – the fines are simply too high to ignore. It’s an imperative.
On the surface, it’s an imperative to follow a whole new set of rules. But really, it’s an imperative to think more deeply about the customer experience and how you’re treating customer data.
New customer rights actually give you an opportunity. The chance to get more value from customer data and deliver better, richer customer experiences. To treat your customers with respect and tackle data requests head on.
That’s the kind of challenge customer-centric brands are thrilled to rise to.
To find out more about why SMS is the right solution for GDPR data requests, read our new factsheet “Be prepared for the GDPR” to find out more.